13 September 2023

The importance of partnership - a Pakistan trip report

After delays caused by the flood devastation and political unrest, Brooke's Senior Manager of Programmes and Partnerships, Daniel Gallagher, travelled to Pakistan last month to work with the Brooke Pakistan team on developing and strengthening their work with partners. 

This is a map of Pakistan - Brooke works everywhere that's coloured orange. We started our trip right down in the south in Karachi and then moved up to Hyderabad, caught a plane on to Multan and then drove on to Faisalabad, finally ending up in Lahore for a workshop with Brooke Pakistan senior staff and representatives from eight partner organisations they collaborate with. So we took in quite a lot of the country and the different contexts in which Brooke Pakistan works in just a few days! 

Veterinary training in Karachi

We began in Karachi, south of Pakistan, where Brooke’s field office shares a campus with government vet offices. This is the case for many of Brooke’s regional offices in Pakistan, so there’s often a really strong relationship with these institutions. Here, we met with Regional Manager, Dr Sher Nawaz, who holds a wealth of knowledge having been with Brooke for more than 20 years. Brooke works with the government to provide training to veterinary students using our Health and Welfare module, to ensure good practice in caring for working equines. 

Brick Kilns and Sustainable Equine Welfare Change

We moved north to Hyderabad, where Brooke's premises are shared with the local livestock department. Here, we visited a brick kiln in Hyderabad where Brooke Pakistan has only been working since October 2022, following the floods that devastated this area. It was around 46-47 degrees celsius in most places we travelled to, and a few degrees hotter in the brick kilns due to them essentially being one great big oven!

The animal shelters constructed here were actually funded by the emergency funds we received from our generous Brooke supporters, as evidenced by the nice plaque on the wall.

The conditions here are incredibly harsh for animals and people, working long hours in sweltering heat. The team is working to improve the welfare of donkeys working there, including proper harnessing and injury prevention, introducing regulations around the use of the animals and making infrastructural changes to allow for appropriate water and shade. The team will need to be here for at least three years to bring about changes that can be sustained after they leave.

We sat in on a meeting with a men’s group based there. There was a poster on the wall displaying the photographs and contact details for the individuals that Brooke Pakistan has linked to this community - including private vets, government vets and community representatives. There aren’t enough women at this particular site right now to establish a women’s group, however those that are here were very curious about what we were doing and we spotted a few women peeping over the wall!

We were introduced to a man in a nearby village who demonstrated the collective feed purchase model, which helps ensure a supply of quality feed to surrounding brick kilns and communities. He described it as 'hard work', but he was 'glad to be able to support the community', finding it a better means of income than his previous work in the brick kiln.

Welfare pledges

Attendees signed a pledge promising to “take care of our animals especially in the peak summer, and offer shade, water and a balanced diet”

We then took a flight to Multan, a city roughly in the middle of the country. Here, we observed a fantastic community session hosted by Regional Manager, Dr Shafi, at one of Brooke’s intervention sites - who demonstrated appropriate types of feed for donkeys in the brick kilns. We also saw Lubna Saeed, Brooke Pakistan’s Community Development Officer, deliver welfare messages around the feed and care of working animals through a puppet show skit that had the men engrossed!

Attendees signed a pledge promising to “take care of our animals especially in the peak summer, and offer shade, water and a balanced diet” - and those that were unable to write pledged using their handprint. We also committed to signing up to the pledge!

Next, we travelled to Bahauddin Zakariya University, the largest university of South Punjab with one of the best veterinary science faculties in the whole country. Here, Brooke trains the tutors on equine-specific topics and also in tools such as the Animal Health Mentoring Framework (AHMF). We met with senior faculty members who highlighted the crucial benefits of the AHMF and its wider application in mentoring individuals who treat all species of livestock. Students were particularly interested in Brooke’s online resources and excited about the open access content that Brooke is currently planning to provide.

Signs of change

We visited further brick kilns in Multan that Brooke Pakistan has worked in for longer, and as a result we saw examples of positive change. We saw new shelters built in collaboration with brick kiln owners, trees planted for shade and animal troughs filled with water. The government and private vets we met noted there had been a decrease in serious animal illness such as colic and lameness. The workers at the site also maintain their own first aid kit and have the ability to offer basic treatments themselves.

Finally, we observed a children’s group session at one of the brick kilns. In many brick kilns, the men will leave their families behind to work for the season, but here their wives and children are living with them in very basic accommodations on site. Brooke Pakistan recognises the role children can play in improving animal welfare. Here, we participated in a series of games and competitions which demonstrated the children’s impressive knowledge of looking after their equines. It was lovely to see.

Dr Wahab

Our final stop in the field was meeting a Brooke trained Animal Health Provider, Dr Wahab. He is now a private Veterinary Officer with a well-stocked clinic - including equine specific drugs. These are not always readily accessible and part of Brooke Pakistan’s work is trying to ensure the availability and use of such drugs. Dr Wahab really valued his training with Brooke, and his staff and trainees have really taken on board all the equine knowledge and information that he is sharing. Dr Wahab is also using social media to broaden his reach within the local community - including setting up a YouTube channel. Perhaps he’ll be the next big celebrity vet?

Earlier in the trip we had also been introduced to a private vet who had been trained by Brooke Pakistan under their Brooke Associate Model (BAM) using the AHMF. The BAM identifies and mentors talented vets who may have graduated with a gap in their knowledge and skill set around treating equine animals. These individuals are trained, mentored and given distance support when treating equine cases. They are linked to communities and given advice on how to promote their services. Everywhere we went we saw copies of the AHMF being displayed and used which was really good to see.

The power of partnership
Daniel and the Brooke Pakistan team in Karachi

The final part of our trip was a two-day workshop in Lahore with senior members of the Brooke Pakistan team and representatives from many of their partners.

Working with partners means we can reach communities and animals we would otherwise not be able to. It can also be a more effective way of working within a country, utilising others’ skills and expertise to enhance Brooke's own to have greater impact. There is added value in the mutual benefit each organisation brings in terms of expertise, experience and resources. By collaborating within government structures and with other NGOs we also hope that the likelihood of positive changes being sustained is greater.

At the conclusion of the workshop, all attendees said they had benefited from the ideas being shared, and Brooke Pakistan had the outline of a new partnership strategy with an emphasis on embedding equine health and welfare into partners’ other existing projects and extending our work into new areas of the country. Everywhere we went on this trip, people had so many positive things to say about Brooke Pakistan, really understanding and appreciating how our work improving equine welfare supports their own aims, be they government officials, university lecturers, development professionals or brick kiln owners. 32 years after its initial registration, it feels like there are many new and exciting opportunities on the horizon for Brooke Pakistan.